CERVICAL Cancer Prevention Week launched in Ayrshire last week – with volunteers and local politicians smearing lipstick on their faces to raise awareness of the campaign.

The annual #SmearForSmear event, led by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, asks people to share smudged lipstick selfies on social media with the hashtag #SmearForSmear to raise awareness of the disease.

Ayrshire fundraiser, Suzanne Fernando, 43, organised the awareness event at Ardrossan South Beach Surgery with Patricia Gibson MP and Kenneth Gibson MSP.

They were joined by our reporter Rebecca Garrett and Suzanne’s friends, James and April Smith from Beith.

Having been diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer at just 26, Suzanne knows more than anyone the importance of getting regular smear tests.

She said: “I was pregnant at the time, so I didn’t realise I had cancer.

“The long-term effects of cervical cancer are horrendous, and I wouldn’t wish them on anybody. I have osteoporosis and arthritis and that’s caused by long-term damage.

“The scary thing about this cancer is there are very, very little signs and symptoms so the smear test is so important because it can detect abnormalities before it develops into anything more serious.

“Last year was a fantastic success with the #SmearForSmear campaign so I decided to do it again this year. It’s a lot of fun but it’s also a serious message to encourage women to get regular smears. It must be 10 years since the ‘Jade Goody effect’ and unfortunately people have forgotten. That’s why I wanted to make the media aware. The number of women getting regular smear tests has gone up again in the last few weeks - people have seen the campaign on social media, so it is helping.

“Most women who don’t go for smear tests avoid them because they’re embarrassed about it. It’s saving your life so what’s there to be embarrassed about?”

Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said of the local #SmearForSmear event: “It was great fun but of course there’s a serious message behind it. There’s a danger that the number of women going for smears is falling and that’s worrying because it’s such a simple procedure. That’s quite scary because that’s a lot of women being exposed to real danger.”

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson added: “I’m delighted to help raise awareness. It’s a very simple, straightforward message: smear tests save lives.”